PROVO (News4Utah) — UPDATE:
In June of 2018, UPE dismissed the lawsuit; however, Prince’s attorneys say they still have concerns about the towing company’s intent since they dismissed it without prejudice.
Dismissing without prejudice means that UPE could refile the lawsuit and make the claims against Mr. Prince at a later date.
Regardless, Prince’s attorneys are confident that they would successfully defend Prince if UPE chooses to file the claims against him.
They hope the litigation between UPE and Prince will remain in the past.
A student in Provo is facing a $500,000 lawsuit, filed by University Parking Enforcement (UPE). UPE is a towing company, and it is not owned or operated by Brigham Young University. It has contracts with housing complexes to patrol parking in Provo.
Carl Prince’s his legal battle with UPE started at an unmarked parking spot in September 2017. His car was parked next to Park Plaza, an apartment complex. That’s where UPE put a boot on his car and later towed it. The parking spot was designated for a recycling truck that came every week. Prince says it was easy to mistake it for a spot because of there were neither signs nor diagonal lines inside of it.
Prince went to UPE’s facility to pay for the citation and repossess his car. He asked an employee to explain why his car was booted and later towed. He did not receive an answer as to why. UPE refunded his money after Prince wrote a letter to the company. He has a letter from UPE acknowledging that its employee was wrong not to show Prince evidence.
Prince then decided to sue the towing company, citing it illegally withheld evidence. He took the case to a small claims court.
He decided to start a Go Fund Me account to raise money for his court payments.
“I wanted to avoid going to court if possible, so I sent them a letter stating my intent to file a complaint,” said Prince.
Prince filed on two counts:
- UPE did not provide Prince sufficient evidence for towing him
- UPE did not have the right to tow him from that particular spot due to a lack of clarity
Prince won the first count, but he did not win the second. He decided to appeal that decision, and won. He was rewarded $2 and court costs.
“This case is about a young man who received a full refund because of a technical error in a statue,” said UPE’s attorney, Justin Heideman. “(He) decided that wasn’t enough so he sued. He got paid, then he decided it wasn’t enough, so he sued again.”
Prince’s statements online had begun to receive traction, and UPE took notice. In May of 2018, they decided to sue Prince for defamation. Prince says he was shocked — especially when he thought it was finally over.
UPE says it felt obligated to sue Prince to protect its reputation.
“In 18 years I’ve never seen a plaintiff who appealed after winning because he didn’t feel he won enough, and after he admitted he had no damage,” said Heideman.
Prince says he could not see how UPE could legally validate its claim.
“I said that hundreds of people can attest that UPE often crosses the line. They in their complaint state that these hyperlinks lead to Better Business Bureau and Yelp with a total of 30 reviews,” said Prince. “They’re stating that since 30 is not hundreds, that that is false, and therefore defamation.”
Prince says that there are more than 200 complaints against the towing company. He says the links don’t lead to the BBB. They lead to Google and Yelp. These websites contain more than 200 reviews. Prince says he is not guilty of defamation. He insists these arguments are not valid.
UPE claims Prince is destroying its reputation.
“Now we’re stuck dealing with him because he’s following our employees, he’s talking to the businesses and he’s disparaging our reputation online,” said Heideman.
Prince says he’s not just fighting for himself, he’s fighting for others.
“I’m just hoping this exposure perhaps motivates them to maybe rethink some policy, training and ultimately create a better environment in Provo,” said Prince.
Both Prince and UPE say they are planning to go to trial.